Is the end of The Chaser’s War On Everything drawing nigh, or is a very long holiday well away from TV on the cards?

There have been stories of tension on and off the studio floor, concerns about publicity, cliques being formed and the constant chat about talks with Seven and Nine about exploring the team’s “commercial” options next year.

The sixth Chaser, Charles Firth, left last year and has gone commercial by joining the Nine Network’s ageing election team for the November 24 coverage.

The Chaser was again the most watched program on TV last night with 1.489 million people, with the top audiences in Sydney and Melbourne.

It is one of the reasons that ABC TV is having its best year for some while and why Wednesday nights are its best night of the week. Chaser has even helped pull up the ratings of Spicks and Specks at 8.30pm (but it couldn’t help The Librarians last night: the audience for the second ep fell to 1.084 million, down 211,000 from its debut last week).

Crikey had the story in yesterday’s tips and rumours of off-camera tension at the end of this week’s taping on Tuesday night with a member of the production crew allegedly being sacked on the spot. Other Crikey readers have emailed in recent weeks talking of problems in tapings they have attended, with reports of delays of up to two hours.

Repeated delays like that cost money, even at the ABC. Studios, editors, crew, directors and others in control rooms and recording areas cost thousands of dollars an hour. I know, having worked in TV, what damage poor studio planning can do to budgets.

Other people who attended Tuesday night’s taping tell of a tension-filled studio in between takes, with the five Chasers splitting into small cliques between takes. And this was with ABC Managing Director, Mark Scott, in the audience.

He will have to decide, along with the head of ABC TV, Kim Dalton, just how to approach the Chasers for 2008. Will they get a rest in early 2008 and only return later in the year, or perhaps some occasional specials? Doing what they do every week is a strain. They have been working for most of this year, so a later start in 2008 wouldn’t surprise.

And there are still two election specials to come as well. Not squeezed out of them as claimed by some commentators, but agreed to earlier this year.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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